After removing all the historians of economics (and pluralist economists) from the economics department in 2003, Notre Dame University are now planning to shut down the department which they were all placed in. This at a time when the mainstream is ‘officially’ re-thinking its stance to pluralism seems like further indication that there is no such re-think going on. This has sparked comment from a previous faculty member, Teresa Ghilarducci and others like Fred Lee, the open economics blog and The Observer.
The original argument (if we ignore the in-fighting, politics, and bad feelings towards the pluralists-slash-historians) was that the Mainstream people were publishing in ‘better’ journals. Despite the fact that the pluralists and historians were more productive (in terms of research), their work did not go into certain star ranked journals. So the classification and ranking systems comes back to haunt us. We have already discussed the attempts to re-classify HET in Australia, and there has been some changes to classifications in Europe and Australia despite this (I seem to recall). But this is where the battle lines have been drawn. Not by us, but by economics departments who wish to appear to be doing ‘serious’ work, and appear to be doing so to outsiders. The public debate on the value of mainstream economics will (eventually) die down again. Just as it did after the 1998 Financial Crash (which supposedly discredited the Scholes-Merton work), and after the 2001 bubble. When it does, we will be left with mainstream economists who are patting each other’s back for getting us ‘out of the crisis’, a public which evaluates the discipline on ranking metrics and a repeat of history once more. Or maybe there is something which can be done?